Have you ever thought about standing for your local council? No? What's stopping you?
Aspiring councillors don't need any special qualifications and even a criminal record will not prevent you - unless you are currently in jail for three years or more.
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) president Stuart Crosby says councils are a space for everyone, all ages, cultures, genders, abilities and ambitions, to have a voice, be considered and thrive.
This is because the role of an elected member has two sides: On one hand, councillors represent the different communities of a district, city or region and make sure all voices are heard.
On the other, elected members make decisions about a wide range of policies and plans.
Crosby says: "Members ensure a council always acts in the best interest of its entire community. It means considering the bigger picture and balancing short and long-term responsibilities."
Councils and their elected members have a wide range of responsibilities that affect people's day-to-day lives: parks, playgrounds, pools, libraries, museums and liquor licencing, but also town planning and infrastructure services like water and roads. Councils even affect dead people, because they manage cemeteries.
There are a couple of options on how to bring your community's voice on those topics to the council table. You can stand for mayor, councillor, or if established, local board or community board. You can even stand for more than one position if they don't have a conflict of interest.
Once you decide what role you want to stand for, there are a couple of things to look out for.
Firstly, you must be a New Zealand citizen. You also need to be enrolled on the parliamentary electoral roll anywhere in New Zealand and you have to have lived at your current address for at least one month.
If you have all those boxes ticked, you can go ahead with the nomination process, but beware - you can't nominate yourself. Two other people need to nominate you.
Those people have to be at least 18 years old and be enrolled to vote in the area you wish to stand in. You don't have to live in the area you want to stand in.
Your nomination must be on your council's official nomination form which needs to be sent to your council's electoral officer. In the nomination form, you should also provide a recent photograph and a 150-word profile statement which will be published in a booklet and sent out with the voting documents.
Once that is done, you have to formally consent to your nomination and pay a $200 deposit which you might not get back if you don't get enough votes.
The next hurdle to take is the campaign. Candidates have a maximum amount they are allowed to spend while campaigning, including donations. So, you better keep your receipts, because you will have to submit them if you get elected.
There are several ways of campaigning, including on social media, through flyers, door knocking or having a stand at the local shopping centre. But be careful about your posters and signs: there are rules about where and when they may be erected.
If this sounds like a role you can see yourself in, you have time from July 15 until August 12 to put your name forward.
People can vote for you (or your competition) between September 16 and October 8. The initial results which will indicate whether you got the job or not will be available in the evening of October 8.
You might be lucky and receive the official final results later on the same day, if not, they
will be available between now and October 13.
If you got in, your job starts the day after the official public notification, but before you can make any decisions, you must swear an oath of office.
For more information, LGNZ has put together a candidate guide.
• July 15: Candidate nominations open
• August 12, noon: Candidate nominations close
• August 17: The full list of candidates standing in the election will be announced
• September 16: Voting papers will be sent out to enrolled voters between now and September 21
• October 8: Voting closes and initial results will be published later on in the day. Final results are available between this date and October 13